Daily Current Affairs IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th January 2019

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  • January 19, 2019
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Daily Current Affairs IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th January 2019



Animal in news: Great Indian Bustard

Part of: Prelims – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal Conservation

In news:

  • Rajasthan’s State bird may be extinct soon. Only 50 Great Indian Bustards left in the wild, no action on plan to save them.
  • The GIB’s last remnant wild population of about 50 in Jaisalmer district accounts for 95% of its total world population.
  • No progress has been made on the proposal for establishing a captive breeding centre.

About the GIB:

  • The GIB is a heavy bird, weighing 15-16 kg.
  • The GIB is a flagship species of the grassland; it determines the health of the grasslands, on which many other species of birds and animals, and even the dairy industry is dependent on.
  • IUCN Conservation status: Critically Endangered

Loss of grassland — the habitat of the GIB — is primary cause:

  • There is unhindered grazing and installing of windmills and power stations on grasslands, thereby encroaching upon the breeding and wintering ground of the GIB.
  • Large parcels of grassland are converted to agricultural land.
  • The changing agricultural pattern that is moving away from traditional crops is another reason. With the disappearance of the traditional Bajra and Jowar crops, whose by-products served as fodder, their food has been on the decline.
  • An increase in the use of pesticides has further depleted the population of insects like the beetle, which the GIB and other birds feed on.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Grameen) scheme: Rural housing achieves only 66% target

Part of: Prelims and Mains II – Government schemes and policies; Social/Welfare scheme; Rural Development

In news:

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Grameen) scheme, which provides for housing for the rural poor, has achieved only 66% of its target to complete one crore houses.
  • The scheme has the objective of “Housing for All by 2022”.
  • 2.95 crore houses are set to be constructed by 2022.
  • In the first phase the target is construction of one crore pucca houses by 31st March, 2019.
  • However, only 66% target is achieved and only two and a half months is left.


1.NASA’s Cassini

Part of: GS Prelims III – Science and Technology and Space Missions

  • Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. It is a Flagshipclass NASA–ESA (EU)–ASI (Italy) robotic spacecraft.
  • Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit. It has studied the planet and its many natural satellites.
  • Cassini has revealed the existence of earth-like geographic features, great lakes of liquid nitrogen gas on Titan’s surface.
  • Cassini also found evidence for the existence of Underground Ocean on the moon Enceladus.
  • NASA announced that the spacecraft has found evidence that the underground ocean could sustain some form of life. Cassini has generated a rich volume of data that will fuel scientific study for decades to come.

2. India ranks third in research papers on artificial intelligence

Part of: GS Prelims III – Science and Technology

In news:

  • India ranks third in the world in terms of high quality research publications in artificial intelligence (AI)
  • China stands first, with 37, 918 documents and the United States with 32,421 documents. (India – 12,135 documents)
  • India’s national think-tank, the NITI Ayog, last June released a discussion paper on the transformative potential of AI in India that said the country could add $1 trillion to its economy through integrating AI into its economy.



TOPIC:General studies 2

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.   
  •  Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

Collegium controversy: The danger of reciprocity


  • The controversial collegium system of judicial appointments is under public scrutiny once again.
  • Collegium’s unusual action of revisiting decisions made at an earlier meeting, and recommending the elevation of two junior judges to the Supreme Court instead of two judges whose names had been considered earlier – show how opaque the collegium system still is.
  • No one has any doubts about the competence or integrity of Judges but the manner in which it was carried out puts the spotlight once again on the controversial collegium system of judicial appointments.
  • This controversy has reminded everyone of the need to reform the collegium system itself.

Do you know?

  • The right to select judges to the Supreme Court was taken upon itself by the apex court in 1993 and revalidated in a 1998 judgment (Third Judges case).
  • The current government tried to change that with the passage of a law on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), but the law was shot down — again by the Supreme Court.
  • NJAC was struck down by the SC because it would have compromised the independence of the CJI and given a role to the government in the appointment of judges.
  • Unlike in the U.S. where judges are appointed by the President and are known to be leaning towards the Democrats or Republicans, Indian judges are not supposed to have any political affiliation.

Why do we need to reform the collegium system?

  • Credibility of the SC: Controversial collegium system of judicial appointments undermines the independence of judges and raises unnecessary doubts about the credibility of the highest court.
  • Politicization of appointment: Government is not only the biggest litigator but also the greatest threat to the abuse of power. Judicial review as a concept is supposed to control the government and keep it in check.

Is it possible to completely insulate judges from governmental influence?

  • According to George Orwell, it is impossible to completely insulate judges from governmental influence.
  • Orwell pointed out in 1984, the government is everywhere, and judges as fellow human beings do get influenced by it.
  • The judiciary asserts its position only when the government is weak.
  • This collegium system was asserted when we had weak Central governments in the 1990s.

“Norm of reciprocity”

  • According to the American sociologist, Alvin Ward Gouldner, the universal norm in human societies is that individuals are obligated to reciprocate favours received.
  • “People should help those who have helped them” and “people should not injure those who have helped them”.

Succession to the Chief Justiceship

  • Each judges, in line of succession to the Chief Justiceship, eyed the other with suspicion and tried to outdo him in proclaiming his loyalty to the Government either in their judgments or even on public platforms.

In his NJAC judgment (2015), Justice J.S. Khehar discussed the issue of reciprocity at length in striking down the commission.

  • Justice Khehar preferred exclusion of the political executive from the appointment of judges as a feeling of gratitude towards the government impacts the independence of the judiciary.
  • It was for this very reason that even R. Ambedkar wanted to insulate the judiciary from political pressures.

Most governments prefer pliable judges but many of our judges remain wedded to their oath and decide cases without fear or favour.

True reciprocity affects humans but since our judges are addressed as ‘Lords’, they should not have any feeling of gratitude towards anyone.

Connecting the dots:


TOPIC:General studies 2 

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Role of Judiciary
  • Governance issues

Supreme Court sets deadline for names to select a Lokpal


  • The Supreme Court “requested” the Lokpal search committee, constituted to suggest names for appointment of the country’s first anti-corruption ombudsman, to complete its task and submit a panel of names by February-end.
  • The Supreme Court said the government’s stand on completing the appointment of a Lokpal, an ombudsman to protect the common man from corruption in public service and power centres, was “wholly unsatisfactory.”

Do you know?

  • It has taken five years since the Lokpal Act, 2013, received the President’s assent on January 1, 2014, for a Search Committee to even begin its work.
  • The Search Committee was formed only on September 27, 2018, after Common Cause, an NGO, filed a contempt petition against the government over the delay in constituting the authority despite a Supreme Court verdict in April 2017.
  • Even after it was formed, the Search Committee has been handicapped because of lack of office space, manpower, infrastructure and a secretariat.
  • Therefore, the Court directed the government to provide all infrastructure and facilities that the panel requires to complete its job.
  • In the past too (April 2017 verdict), the court had reprimanded the Centre for the delay in creating the institution.

Pic: https://www.thehindu.com/news/fg1cl7/article24507336.ece/alternates/FREE_615/vbk-lokpal%20graphic%20city

Lack of political will

  • Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act came into force on January 16, 2014. But before the UPA could appoint a Lokpal, it was unseated by the current NDA in the general election four months later.
  • The NDA is now six months away from completing its own term, but there is still no Lokpal.
  • It’s not just this government, even previous governments did not want a Lokpal because it’s a revolutionary law.
  • The 2014 act also called upon states to appoint a Lokayukta within a year of its coming to force. But now 13 states do not have a Lokayukta — while some have temporary vacancies, seven states haven’t ever had a Lokayukta.
  • The Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Morarji Desai in 1966 recommended the setting up of a Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in states. There were nine failed attempts between 1968 and 2011 to pass a Lokpal and Lokayuktas bill.

Just as the Centre has dragged its feet on appointing a Lokpal, several states have done the same with the Lokayukta, with the apex court asking them to expedite the process.

Why the delay in appointing Lokpal?

  • One of the members on the selection committee for appointing the Lokpal is the leader of the opposition. Since the post is vacant (no opposition party won the requisite 10% of Lok Sabha seats in 2014), the government has said it cannot appoint a Lokpal till the law is amended to include the leader of the single largest opposition party. The apex court said this should not delay the appointment.
  • Nothing except the lack of political will to establish the Lokpal can explain years of delay.

Connecting the dots:

  • What is an ombudsman? Discuss its efficacy as an institutional measure to curb corruption.


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)


  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
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Q.1) Government of India has being trying to protect the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard. Which of the following statement are correct about Great Indian Bustard?

  1. To protect the bird and create awareness, this has been made the state bird of Haryana.
  2. It is a flight less bird.
  3. It is found in arid and semi-arid grassland.

Select the code from the following:

  1. All of the above
  2. 1 and 2
  3. 2 and 3
  4. 3 only

Q.2) Rajasthan Government has set up a captive breeding centre for Great Indian Bustard(GIB). Consider the following statements

  1. First Captive breeding centre for GIB was set up in Haryana in 2015
  2. GIB is a flightless bird
  3. GIB is listed as critically endangered in IUCN Red Data List

Which of the above statement[s] is/are correct?

  1. 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 2 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

Q.3) Consider the statements regarding Cassini Spacecraft

  1. It is an unmanned space mission
  2. It is the first space probe for the study of Saturn and first to enter its orbit
  3. It is a flagship initiative of NASA

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2
  2. Only 1
  3. 1 and 3
  4. 1, 2 and 3


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